Varavara Rao
Varavara Rao
File Photo

Mumbai: Maharashtra's home minister agreed to shift the ailing Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao from Taloja Jail to Nanavati Hospital for his post-Covid treatment, as a special case. This came after hours of quizzing by the Bombay high court on Wednesday over moving Rao, who, the court said, was "almost on his death-bed".

A bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Madhav Jamdar ordered the state to bear the costs of Rao's treatment. The judges further issued a directive ordering the state not to discharge the activist from the said hospital without informing the court.

The bench also ordered the state to ensure that Rao's family is allowed to meet him as per the hospital norms.

The order came after senior counsel Indira Jaising, appearing for Rao's wife P Hemalatha, alleged that the state had failed to protect her client's right to liberty and a healthy life by not taking proper care of his health.

Finding lacunae in Rao's recent medical report, Jaising submitted that despite her client suffering from a urinary tract infection, he wasn't examined by a urologist. "Even a neurologist did not examine him, despite his suffering from dementia," Jaising submitted.

Accordingly, she impressed the need to shift Rao to Nanavati Hospital from Taloja Jail, where he is presently lodged.

Having heard the contention, Justice Shinde sought to know from the NIA why it was opposing shifting Rao to Nanavati Hospital.

"You (NIA and the state) must consider that the applicant is ultimately on his death-bed. In such a scenario, can the state and the investigating agency insist on keeping him in jail?" Justice Shinde questioned.

"We are only saying to shift him to Nanavati, where he was treated for Covid. Let him be there for two weeks, we will consider the status later," the judge added.

The observations were made in response to the submissions of NIA through Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who insisted Rao be shifted to the state-run J J hospital. However, Jaising objected to the same, saying that J J Hospital lacked the facilities that Nanavati provided.

During the course of the hearing, State Prosecutor Deepak Thakre told the judges that Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had agreed to consider Rao's case as a special one and to shift him to Nanavati Hospital for further treatment.

The judges accepted the statement and posted Rao's bail plea on medical grounds for further hearing till December.

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